New iPhone, Android Accessory Can Detect HIV

Rhett Pardon

SAN FRANCISCO — An accessory that works with Android and iPhone smartphones can detect HIV with a finger prick in 15 minutes.

The dongle accessory costs just $34 to produce and offers great hope for the future of detecting diseases accurately, its developers say.

News of the HIV testing application was revealed today in a Wired article that gave a rundown how Tiffany Guo and Tassaneewan Laksanasopin, along with other biomedical engineering researchers at Columbia University, built it.

“We saw that the smartphone as this ubiquitous device that already had a lot of the components that we wanted,” Guo told Wired. “So we stripped our dongle down to the essentials of what we needed for our assay — very simple optics and very simple fluid control.”

The dongle accessory plugs into ordinary iPhones and Android phones through the audio jack, which it uses to draw power and transfer data.

“To use the device, you prick your finger and drop a small blood sample into a cassette holding what’s called a microfluidic chip, and then you insert the cassette into the device,” the Wired piece said. “By pressing a bulb on the device, you can push the blood through the chip, which can test the sample, and after about 15 minutes, the results will appear on an app loaded on the phone.”

A video of how the device works can be viewed here.